Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Truth about the George

When I do my comedy gig at the George tomorrow, it will represent a flight back in time for me. I used to be an habitue of the George during my first ever research project.

The research was on barristers' clerks, a strange breed that haunts the Temple and the law courts. I've written a book about them.

Back before Roll on Friday, Friday night was the escape hatch into another dimension. When you went through this air lock, you breathed the hoppy fumes of the pub. It was your salvation for the stress and strain of the past week. It was where you could meet and gossip while sipping away.

When I started my research it involved hanging out with clerks. And as Ned Polsky says you go where they go (but he was referring to hustlers). Friday night it was off to the George. At this stage in my career and life, I drank maybe a pint of beer or possibly two during an evening. Pathetic, I know.

The system in the George, without being grandiose about it, was for the clerk entering the pub to buy a round for those present. For some strange reason, at that time I liked Guinness. So every time a round was bought I had another pint of Guinness lined up in front of me.

If you've ever drunk Guinness you will understand why my eyes had that scared, rabbity look about them as I gazed on the endless line of black pints stretched out on the counter. "Go on, John, drink up!"


There were eight pints. I tried: I really did. I have no recollection of how many of those pints I actually downed. It couldn't have been all eight. That would have been impossible.

Apparently as I took the last tube home that night, I tried, feebly, to write up field notes about my time in the pub. Later, much later, I could make out the occasional word, but what did it mean?

I spent Saturday quietly, very quietly in a darkened room waiting for it to all go away. Of course I followed Ned Polsky's strictures and so spent many a Saturday in a darkened room.

I'm back at the George tomorrow. Hope to see you there!
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